The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Love conquers all. Or does it?

I’ll further add does love mean never having to say you’re sorry?

Popular culture might have you believe both are true, but naturally I disagree on both counts. Love means always saying you’re sorry. And sometimes love simply isn’t enough. Often even when you can’t forgive someone, you move forward anyway –  not to discount the merits of a good apology. While I was raised to be the quasi-neurotic feminist I’ve become, I was also counseled to marry a rich man over a poor man. Lest you think I kid here, I assure you, I do not (Thanks, Mom!). Despite her half-hearted advice, I’ve never once asked for a fiscal statement before a date. Call me magnanimous. After all, I earned my money the old fashioned way – I inherited it.

Geneticist Professor Don Tillman might not appreciate my irreverent attitude regarding dating requirements. In fact, he is far more specific than I am. In his quest to find the perfect woman to marry him, he creates a questionnaire to filter through potential candidates. Do you drink or smoke? Yes? Unsuitable. Have you ever been late or do you wear make-up? Yes? Unsuitable. Can you cook or calculate your body mass index in your head ? No? Unsuitable. Is said calculated body mass index below 25 and do you exercise frequently? No? Unsuitable. In the 304 responses he receives from his questionnaire, not one suitable candidate is found, but Don is convinced (statistically) that there is someone for everyone. In walks Rosie Jarman who, on a quest of her own to find her biological father, enlists the help of Don. She is completely wrong for him, she is a feisty, quirky barmaid who smokes, drinks, swears, and is perpetually late and – worse yet – a vegetarian. But over the course of the novel, Don realizes that there is no magic formula for love.

The Rosie Project

Did you just picture me roll my eyes a little bit? Because I did. Don’t get me wrong, The Rosie Project is adorable and I enjoyed it the same way one enjoys Notting Hill. It is clearly destined to be a film and a quick search will tell you that this is indeed true (the rights were bought by Sony). In fact, the author originally wrote The Rosie Project as a screenplay. However, to get it sold, he turned it into a novel. It’s the story of Don who, while it’s not confirmed in the story, is assumed to have Asperger syndrome. He often lacks the ability to interpret social cues and has a number of eccentricities that deviate from constructed social norms. He is also a highly intelligent, successful genetics professor with good friends. Because it presents life with Asperger syndrome in somewhat of a glossy, clichéd light, I missed some of the joy the novel clearly exudes.

All is not lost though. Don is a charming, lovable hero that you can’t help but root for. He may be looking for love in all the wrong places (i.e. the logical ones), but he is smart enough to recognize it when it comes his way. Rosie, although a bit of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl (with depth), is likable enough because she is a beautiful, quirky force of nature who teaches Don that he is capable of loving another and living life to the fullest. My eye-rolling aside, I think ‘The Rosie Project’ is a sweet, charming romantic comedy novel that has broad appeal. The moral of the story is that there is no right way to find love (and it certainly can’t be done with a survey*) and I can’t argue with that. I’ll be recommending this one to quite a few people, as it’s easy to love (even if that’s not the first reaction I had). 3.5/5.

I like to ask questions at the end of my reviews to facilitate discussion. This time I’ve got nothing. Dare I ask about dating preferences? I’ve always dated an opposite personality, it seems to balance things. Any other thoughts are always appreciated.

*Oh wait, someone actually did this. Color me impressed.

Coal Fired Pizza

While visiting New York, Don and Rosie indulge in coal-fired pizza from Arturo’s. I rarely miss an opportunity to recommend pizza (now is no exception), but this is a variant of my normal recommendation – as in you can’t make it yourself. Not unless you own a coal-fired pizza oven, in which case I’m moving in. Until then, for fellow Colorado residents, try Marco’s (image from Marco’s) on Larimer.

22 thoughts on “The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

    1. It came highly recommend from a trusted blogger and I like it well enough, it’s just not something I’ll ever revisit (nor will I seek out anything else like it). I’ve never tried coal-fired pizza, obviously I’ve been missing out.


  1. If love means never having to say you’re sorry then I am doing something dreadfully wrong. As for the book, I actually knew a man who pretty much found the perfect wife, genetically speaking, to procreate with. Or at least those where the rumors.

    The marriage didn’t work out.


    1. How do you find the perfect genetic counterpart…? There are so many things that can go wrong during the fertilization process, I feel like it’s a crap shoot anyway. I’ve always had the best intentions of only having children with another blue-eyed person because I want blue-eyed children (I’m not serious here), but I’m the child of a grey eyed and brown eyed parents, so I don’t know that you can ever really predict what you’ll get.

      The marriage didn’t work out…haha.


  2. I totally had a little eye-roll going on, too. I’ve been seeing this book everywhere and feeling a little bit the same about it: I bet it would be a cute movie that I might watch if it was on Netflix and I was home alone, but I probably don’t want to read it.


    1. Glad I’m not the only one! It was fine, I liked it well enough, and I can see the appeal for readers who enjoy romantic comedies – however I’m not a reader who usually enjoys those. I like things to be a little gritty. When everything works out perfectly perfect, it gets a little unbelievable.


  3. SO this one will be aiming at awards season if it’s ever made. Here’s to development hell.

    “After all, I earned my money the old fashioned way – I inherited it.” – great line.

    A few of my female friends’ mums said that to them growing up – look for a man with money or at least good prospects; if he’s got no ambition (…to be wealthy) he’s not a real man.


    1. Cheers to that. I keep hearing rumors of Steve Carrell (because he was in The 40-Year-Old virgin and obviously it’s the same thing) and LIzzy Caplan. I’m not excited.

      Thanks. If you have to lose a parent, there might as well be an upside. (That sounds kind of cold, it’s not really meant to.)

      And I thought my mom owned the title of shallowest advice giver. I think it eliminates a viable portion of interesting people (like teachers, librarians, civil rights lawyers, horticulturists). My mom texted me about two minutes after I published this to tell me she just didn’t want me to marry a dishwasher. I guess it depends on what you want. I’ve never wanted to be wealthy (and I’ve wanted to be a lot of things), but I’ve never liked being poor either so…


      1. That would be nice, as long as it involved someone doing my taxes and updating my apple devices to iOS7 for me – among other things.

        It would not be good for me to be enormously wealthy, I imagine I would become a recluse.


      2. I think my reclusive period would only last maybe a year or so (so I could wallow in being beholden to no one).

        I could do eccentric – it wouldn’t even take much. I would have to come up with a signature eccentric quality though.


  4. I really enjoyed The Rosie Project. A synopsis doesn’t do this type of book any favors, the same way it doesn’t for any romantic comedy. They’ve got a mushy side, and that’s painfully obvious when you try to sum it up. But I thought this book had a lot more depth than most romantic comedies. I’m glad you liked it for what it was 🙂


    1. No, a synopsis makes it sound a bit silly. I liked this one, though I don’t think I’d see the movie. It’d ruin it for me. I’m glad I read it, it satisfied my curiosity as I’ve been hearing nothing but praise for it since it came out in Australia months ago.

      But I don’t know about the depth thing, This Means War ran the emotional gamut. (If you haven’t seen it, I’m being sarcastic, I got stuck watching this on a plane and on a scale from shit to shittest, it is the shittest thing I’ve ever seen.)


  5. Yeah I need to read this. Even if it’s kind of lame and eyeroll-inducing, it does sound super cute. And I feel like I will totally dig the character of Don. I like the science-y types 🙂


    1. Rolling my eyes at something is actually a sign of affection from me. Really. It signifies something is annoying but I love it anyway. I’m such a sucker for science nerds, perhaps because I’m like that myself. Over dinner tonight I was discussing the merits of a lightweight deflectometer. I think I need to get out more.

      As far as science types that work for me, have you seen Skyfall? Because Q really worked for me.


    1. It is exactly that. It’s cute. It’s mostly forgettable. Given the choice between the two I’ll take the cabana boy, but I’m easy like that… 😉


  6. Mmm, coal-fired pizza…I could use some pizza right now (even though I just had some last week!)…

    Glad to hear you enjoyed it! Before I found out that it was originally supposed to be a movie, I remembered thinking while reading how easily adaptable the book would be, lol 🙂


  7. This book was actually a screenplay before it was a novel – the author just ‘knocked it into novel format’ for character development reasons. And then sold it for six figures to over 40 countries. I do like publishing stories like that.

    It kills me that the film will be ‘Americanized’ (no offense) – part of what I loved about the story was all the references to Melbourne University and Carlton (where I went to uni). And rumors of Steve Carrell? I have nothing against Steve… But Don isn’t a dork.


  8. I’m not into romantic stories but I must say that this book was a pleasant surprise. I liked it a lot because of Professor Don and the humor. I’m a sucker for intelligent, science-y men 🙂


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